THE chief constable is to be questioned at the Policing Board following concerns a convicted paedophile was able to go ‘off the radar’ for nearly a year.
The Irish News reported yesterday how James White (43) was apprehended in Stewartstown, Co Tyrone in July and charged with breaking a sexual offences prevention order (SOPO).
He was made subject to the order in 1998 following a conviction for several sexual assaults on young boys.
It is alleged that police were unable to track White down for nearly a year, despite strict monitoring conditions being part of his SOPO.
During that time, it is alleged he had unapproved contact with a 14-year-old boy, to whom he supplied alcohol.
The Policing Board said questions surrounding the case would be raised with PSNI chief constable George Hamilton.
“Given the concerns highlighted, a question will be raised with the chief constable at the next board meeting regarding the police policy and procedures in place for the management of people in receipt of such an order,” it said.
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs said he has also asked the chief constable to look into the case.
He also questioned the PSNI’s refusal to release a picture of White while he was missing, or following his apprehension.
“I simply would urge the police to post a picture, for that matter for all convicted sex offenders whose whereabouts are not known, in order to assist in their apprehension,” he said.
“I would certainly view the risk to the public, and to young boys in particularly, to be considerably heightened in this case and it would have warranted seeking the public’s assistance.”
Mr Beggs also questioned whether the police sought a European arrest warrant in assisting White’s apprehension, as he is also facing charges of leaving the north without permission in August 2015.
Fellow justice committee member and Alliance Party MLA Trevor Lunn also criticised the PSNI’s decision not to release a picture.
“This is a concerning case and the person involved should observe his release conditions at all times. Any breach of them is clearly a serious matter.
“I believe the police will be treating this with the seriousness it deserves, however, perhaps the time to release his picture was when he went missing.”
DUP MLA Maurice Morrow has already written to the chief constable and the justice minister Claire Sugden requesting an investigation into the case.
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